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over in silence, that at a subsequent pe- Hence it is inferred that the former is the riod, when the French anarchists were source of the Sublime, as the latter is of busily engaged in the work of demoraliza- the Beautiful. tion, some of their ardent admirers in this Under the head of Society, the author country, presumed to republish the “Vin- considers three passions, as those which dication of Natural Society,” as a piece cause the greatest part of the pleasure, of serious argument, and thus endeavour- which we take in the fine arts, namely, ed to pervert the irony into a weapon of Sympathy, Imitation, and Ambition. The deadly malignity against the principles second part of the inquiry opens with a which it was constructed to defend. The definition of the passion, caused by the ravages of war, and the other calamities great and sublime in nature, and which which the author of the tract has so forci- in its highest degree is astonishment, or bly pourtrayed, these visionaries, to call “that state of the soul wherein all its mothem by no worse a name, would fain as- tions are suspended, with some degree of cribe to the social state and the legislative horror.” This leads the author to the principle, as the necessary results of what consideration of Terror, as being in some they are pleased to deem an unnatural mode or other, the great instrument in compact, and an arbitrary imposition. producing the Sublime, by exalting small, All ihis might have passed as the dream and increasing the effects of large, objects. of political madness, had it not been This position is illustrated by many apfor the barefaced impudence of pressing posite examples, particularly by the noble Burke into a service which no man ever description of Death, in Milton, a portrait held in greater abhorrence, and which he, which is justly said to "astonish with its in this early production of his pen, actually gloomy pomp and expressive uncertainheld up to public ridicule.
ty.” The inquirer then enters more fully While the imitation of Bolinbroke en- and minutely, into a discussion of the difgaged the public attention, and continued ference between Clearness and Obscurito be the subject of general discourse, the ty, for the purpose of proving that the latter Author was busily employed in conduct- generates more sublime ideas than the ing through the press, a performance of former. “It is our ignorance of things," another description, entitled, “ A Philoso- says he, “that causes all our admiration, phical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas and chiefly excites our passions. Knows of the Sublime and Beautiful.” This ledge and acquaintance make the most elegant disquisition which appeared with striking causes affect but little. It is thus out a name at the beginning of 1757, is with the vulgar, and all men are as the divided into five parts; the first is devoted vulgar in what they do not understand. to an examination of the passions imme- The ideas of eternity and infinity, are diately connected with, and excited by, among the most affecting we have; and the two objects of investigation ; in the yet perhaps there is nothing of which we second and third the Author enters into really understand so little, as of infinity a minute discussion of the properties of and eternity.” Having fixed this princithose things in nature, which produce in ple firmly by uncontested experience, and us ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. an appeal to universal feeling, the author The fourth is directed to the physical resolves all general privations into causes cause by which those properties in things of the Sublime; such as Vacuity, Darkare fitted to raise correspondent affections ness, Solitude, Silence, and Extent. To in the mind; and in the last be considers the idea of Vastness, he refers in some the operation of words.
degree another impression, that of Infinity The inquiry opens by establishing the which arises when we do not see the doctrine of a distinction between positive bounds of any large object, or when its and relative pain and pleasure; after which parts are so continued to any indefinite the passions are reduced to two heads, number, that the imagination meets po those of self-preservation, and those of so- check to hinder its extending them at ciety. To the first of these principles are pleasure. referred all the passions which have their Having examined extension, the author origin in positive pain, and relative plea proceeds to consider Light and Colours. mure ; while to the latter are assigned all He observes that in general, Darkness is the relative pains and positive pleasureg. a more sublime idea than Light, because the latter unless it be unusually splendid, us; we may every moment strike against is of too common occurrence to affect the some dangerous obstructions; we may mind. On the same principle he makes fall down a precipice, ihe first step wo dusky colours, or at least those which are take; and if an enemy approach, we very strong, causes of the Sublime in pre- know not in what quarter to defend our. ference to those which are light and bril selves; in such a case, strength is no liant.
sure protection ; wisdom can only act by We are next called to the other senses, guess; the boldest are staggered, and he the principal of which is Hearing; and who would pray for nothing else is forced here, conformable to the general doctrine, to pray for light great loudness is stated io be grand in the Having largely explicated the physical highest degree, while intermitting sounds, cause of the passion, in which the princithe cries of animals, and sudden silence ple of sublimity originates, the inquirer are considered, according to circumstan- proceeds to a consideration of Love, as ces, as accessory causes of the Sublime. ihe passion naturally produced by BeauThe fourth part of the Inquiry treats of ty: and here among various remarks of the connexion which subsists between uncommon force and elegance, is one on certain qualities in bodies, and particular the contrast between small and vast obemotions of the human mind, in order to jects, which cannot easily be paralleled discover the efficient cause of the Sublime by anything in the writings of ancient or and Beautiful. In the course of this ab- modern philosophers. struse disquisition, the bodily effects of The filth part on the influence of Words, Pain and Terror are described, from is no less argumentative and original than whence arises a question, how anything the rest of the Inquiry. In this part, words allied to such impressions can be produc- are divided into three clases. The first tive of delight. "In answer to this, the class comprehends those which are aggreauthor observes, that inaction is a very gates, or such as represent many simple noxious principle, and the cause of many ideas united by nature to form one deterdangerous distempers by the languor ít minate composition, as man, horse, tree, occasions; that exercise which resembles &c. The second class consists of words, labor and pain, in being an exertion of the which stand for one simple idea of such contracting power of the muscles, is the compounds and no more, as red, blue, best cure for dejection and spleen, and round, square, and the like; these are that therefore it is accompanied with a called simple abstract words. The third degree of pleasure.
class is formed by an arbitrary union of After this the nature of Vision comes both the others, and of the various relaunder examination, in order to shew bow tions between them, in greater or less debodies of vast dimensions, are capable of grees of complexity; as virtue, honor, exciting the contraction or tension of the persuasion, magistrate, and the like. nerves; which property is attributed to These last are the compound abstract the impressions made on the eye, by the words, of which the author says, that not rays reflected back upon it from those being real essences, they harldly cause objects.
any real ideas. This, however, is a doubtThe Inquiry is next directed to the ful position, and somewhat paradoxical, nature of Succession, and the uniformity for surely, though determinate images of Sounds in order to explain their effects, cannot be raised in the mind by such and the analogy between them and visi- terms, simply expressed, it seems too far ble things. Our author now enters into from 'a just conclusion, that no ideas contact with Locke on the subject of Dark- whatever are suggested by them. Virtue ness, which that great writer says, does for instance is a word that cannot excite not naturally convey an idea of terror. an image, or be embodied, as it were, to Mr. BURKE, on the contrary, maintains the mind's eye, yet where is the person that there is an association which makes of understanding, who is destitute of an obscurity terrible, and he supports his idea of what is meant by the expression, opinion by an appeal to experience; for though it is out of his power to give a in utter darkness, it is impossible to know precise definition of it. in what degree of safety we stand; we There is another questionable assertion are ignorant of the objects that surround in this part, and that is where the inge
nious author says, “So little does Poetry European Settlements in America ;" depend for its effect on the power of which the public voice long concurred in raising sensible images, that I am con- ascribing to Mr. BURKE, without any convinced it would lose a very considerable tradiction of it on his part; nor was it till part of its energy, if this were the neces- sometime after his demise, that his right sary result of all description--because to the work was called in question. That that union of affecting words, which is the performance was worihy of his pen, the most powerful of all poetical instru- few persons who have read it carefully ments, would frequently lose its force will venture to deny; and certain it is along with its propriety, and consistency, that the ablest judges of literary compoif the sensible images were always ex- sition, and those the most intimate with cited."
Mr. BURKE, very readily acquiesced in In opposition to this doctrine, it is suffi- the general opinion of its origin. The cient to adduce the authority of Longi- Abbe Raynal, in particular, was so sennus, to whom alone, as a philosophical sible of the value of this history of the critic, is Burke inferior. That elegant European Colonies in America, as to inwriter in his section on imagery, says, corporate almost the whole of it in his “Visions, which by some
own elaborate and philosophical work on images, contribute very much to the the Indies. Another publication, but of weight, magnificence, and force of com- a more permanent character, which at this position. The name of an image is gene- period did credit to the fertile genius and rally given to any idea, however repre. indefatigable industry of BURKE, was the sented to the mind, which is communica. Annual Register. There is reason to be ble to others by discourse: but a more lieve, that the idea of this valuable comparticular sense of it has now become pilation, suggested itself during the proprevalent: when for instance, the imagi- gress of the preceding history, occasioned nation is so warmed and affected, that by the difficulties which the author found you seem to behold yourself, the very in his research, after the facts necessary things you are describing, and to display for the elucidation of his subject. Upon them to the life, before the eyes of an au- this he drew up the plan of a yearly dience. Rhetorical and poetical images, volume, to contain a digested record of however, have a different object; the foreign and domestic events; an arrangedesign of the latter is surprise, that of the ment of public papers with other docuformer is perspicuity.”
mentary matter; and extracts from new Thus the greatest critic of antiquity, books of impo tance, illustrative of the held imagery to be the highest effect of literary, scientific, and political history of mental exertion ; whereas our illustrious the times. The plan being submitted to modern will not allow that Poetry can Dodsley, was readily adopted by that with any propriety be called an art of active publisher, and in the month of imitation ; in which opinion, we believe, June 1759, the first volume made its aphe has had but few if any followers. Nor pearance, all the original matter of which indeed has the principal doctrine of his was furnished by Mr. BURXE, who conadmirable work, that of making Terror tinued to write the historical part, and to the great cause of the Sublime, been superintend the whole collection for many suffered to pass without contradiction, years afterwards. and some writers of late, have held it up These laborious exertions, which had to ridicule in a manner, which shows for their object, the attainment of an more malignity than acumen. To the honorable independence, produced a desecond edition of the Inquiry, the author bility in the frame of Mr. BURKE, that prefixed an excellent discourse concern- gave great alarm to his friends. Among ing Taste, which faculty he does not pre- these was Dr. Christopher Nugent, a physume to describe by a formal definition, sician, and brother to Dr. Thomas Nuthough he ascribes to it the general power gent, an author by profession, but chiefly of forming a judgment on works of imagi- known to the literary world by his excelnation and the arts.
lent translations. Both these gentlemen In the same year with this original were the countrymen of BURKE, great Treatise, came out, a compilation in two admirers of his talents, and zealous in volumes, entitled, "An Account of the promoting his interests. On perceiving the inroad which an incessant application fined himself to a subject of general in to study had made in his constitution, the terest. He entered into the question of benevolent physician earnestly intreated peace with ardour, and in some able him to quit his chambers in the Temple, pamphlets, endeavoured to impress upon and take apartments in his house. This the minds of ministers, the necessity of proposition was complied with, and the adding to our colonial strength in the good effects of it soon appeared in the West Indies, by extending our possesrenovation of health and strength. But sions in the vicinity. Most of the tracts another consequence resulted from it, and which he published on this occasion are that was a sympathetic affection between now lost, or forgotten; since up to this the invalid, and the daughter of Dr. Nu- period, and beyond it, he never affixed his gent; which, within a short space, termi- name to any of his publications. But the nated in a marriage; and though the performances of which we are speaking, young lady had not a shilling of portion, were known to Johnson, through whom á happier couple never existed, insomuch the author became introduced to Mr. that to the end of his days, Mr. BURKE. William Fitzherbert, the father of lord was wont to say to his friends, that “ In St. Helens. This gentleman who was all the anxious moments of his public life, member of parliament for the town of every care vanished when he entered his Derby, brought Mr. Burke acquainted own house."
with the marquis of Rockingham and But though this alliance was not lucra- lord Verney, at the very time when the tive, it was extremely fortunate, by bringe former of those noblemen became the ing our author into an extensive circle of head of a party, which in a short time acquaintance. consisting of persons in the effected a change in the administration. highest stations, and others of established The measures of Mr. George Grenville, credit in the world of letters. The bene- particularly in regard to the imposition fit of these connexions was quickly felt, of a Stamp Duty in America, giving and when the earl of Halifax was appoint- general offence, occasioned his dismissal ed at the beginning of October, 1761, to from office at the beginning of 1765; and the viceroyalty of Ireland, Mr. BURKE in the new arrangement which took place, obtained a situation in his suite as one of the marquis of Rockingham
was made his secretaries. The government of lord first lord of the treasury. This was a Halifax lasted only a few months, he being brilliant prospect to Mr. Burke, for he recalled the following summer to take an was immediately appointed private secreactive part in the administration at home: tary to the prime minister, as his brother and Mr. Burke returned with him, having William was to general Conway, one of previously secured a pension of two hun- the secretaries of state. The same year, dred a year, on the Irish establishment. Mr. Edmund Burke was elected into It does not appear that he enjoyed any parliament for the borough of Wendover, preferment in England, at this time, though in Buckinghamshire, on the interest of his friend William Gerard Hamilton con- lord Verney. This administration was tinued in favour with Lord Halifax, and formed under the mediation of the duke was appointed his under secretary of state. of Cumberland, with the co-operation of That gentleman is said to have soon after- the duke of Newcastle, who it was exwards quarrelled with BURKE ; who in pected would have taken the lead in the consequence threw up his pension, and new cabinet. But the old statesman deonce more had recourse to his pen for a clined the distinction, when the honour support. The feelings of the public, were was offered to him, and the report went at this period much agitated by the ascen- current at the time, that during the settledency of lord Bute, and the prospect of a ment, he plainly told the marquis of Rockpeace, so that the field of politics present- ingham, that he must be first lord of the ed an abundance of matter for the exer, treasury, and that when his lordship obcise of a mind stored with reading, inured jected to the appointment, on the ground to writing, and fertile in argument. of inexperience, his grace facetiously an
BURKE, however, had the good sense swered: “It does not signify, marquis, and magnanimity, notwithstanding the first lord of the treasury you must be; neglect which he had experienced, to care shall be taken to appoint proper peravoid the vulgar topic of the day, and con- sons to assist your lordship in the business of your department; and as to the dispo- upon principle, reduced the question to a sal of the places in your lordship's power, serious dilemma. The administration to if you are not qualified there, I'am ready which Mr. BURKE belonged, were there to undertake that part of your office my- fore involved in difficulties, out of which self.”
it was scarcely possible to escape, without But though this administration was giving offence at home or abroad. Someformed on broad principles, and compri- thing, however, was to be done, and the sed men whose integrity could not be method adopted appeared no doubt in the called in question, it was far from giving minds of the projectors best calculated to satisfaction to the people, who were then, allay the ferment that had been excited, as they had been indeed for the space of and to pacify all parties on both sides of four years prior, in a state of high politi- the Atlantic. But they were mistaken, cal fever. "Much scurrility was thrown for though the repeal of the Stamp Act out at the expense of some of the mem- was conciliatory, the act which accompabers, and among the rest the two Burkes nied it, asserting the right of parliament to came in for their share of abuse. It was legislate for the colonies in everything, roundly averred that EDMUND was a con- only added fresh fuel to the fire. There cealed jesuit, and that William bad borne was certainly much inconsistency in this arms in the rebellion of 1745 ; though it proceeding, in which light it was viewed was well known that the former was edu- by the Americans, who had sence enough cated first in a Protestant seminary, and to perceive that it was in fact nothing next in the college of Dublin, and that his more than a temporary piece of policy, brother was not more than twelve years intended to last just as long and no longer old at the period when he was said to than as it suited the purposes of the conhave joined the standard of the Preten- trivers. There were various opinions as der. This miserable calumny arose from to the direct author of this goodly scheme, the circumstance of the marriage of Ed- but the common one hitherto has been, MUND BURKE into a Roman Catholic that it emanated from the active mind of family, but all the branches of his own, Mr. Burke, who certainly considered it as well as himself, were members of the one of the beneficial acts of the party with Established Church.
whom he was connected. Others, howThe proceedings of this administration ever, entertained a different opinion of belong properly to history, and could not its merits, and the administration from well be compressed into a narrative of whence it proceeded became so unpoputhis brief description. It was soon obvi- lar, that within the space of twelve months ous, however, that the fabric, whatever it was compelled to give place to a set of might be the intentions of those wbo pro- men formed under the auspices of Mr. jected, or of the persons who composed Pitt, who became a peer, and keeper of it
, was too feeble to last long; and the the privy scal. This change was a great death of the duke of Cumberland within blow to Mr. Burke, who retired from four months after its formation, gave it a office without having secured a pension; shock that could not be repaired. During but in this disinterested conduct he did its existence much vigour was manifest- not stand alone, for the whole body of his ed, and many designs were laid for the colleagues threw up their places on the correction of abuses, the encouragement same independent principle. The new of trade, and above all for the conciliation cabinet gave as little satisfaction to the of the American colonies. But in pursu- nation as that which had been so ungraing the last measure the new ministersciously dismissed ; and the earl of Chatwere very unfortunate. The Grenville ham, who had been so long the popular party were for enforcing the Stamp Duty favourite, was now made the object of by coercion, not so much perhaps in re- continual abuse in pamphlets and news gard to the lucrative advantages of that papers. Even his brother-in-law, earl particular branch of revenue, as from a Temple, not only refused to take a part desire to carry forward a general system in this motley administration, but publishof colonial taxation. Mr. Pitt, and his ed a severe diatribe on the conduct of his numerous adherents, on the contrary de- noble relative, who was charged by him nied the right of the British parliament to in plain terms with aiming at a perpetual tax the colonies at all, and this conflict, dictatorship.